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Daily Political Media Summary: 6 June 2008

Economy

Oil fund: The First Minister has called for 10% of the Treasury’s windfall from high oil prices in order to set up a Norwegian-style oil fund. He also called for a fuel price regulator which would use the tax from high oil prices to offset petrol prices. British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said that North Sea oil was a United Kingdom resource (Times page 5, Press and Journal page 7, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 15).

Inflation and interest rates: The Bank of England held interest rates at 5% yesterday. The Governor of the European Central Bank has warned that it may raise interest rates next month to counter inflation (FT page 2, Scotsman page 31, Courier and Advertiser page 16).

Insurance for loans and credit cards: The Competition Commission’s investigation into insurance sold by banks, retailers and finance companies in the form of payment protection on loans and credit cards has shown that the products are routinely overcharged and proper eligibility checks are not carried out (Daily Mail page 19, FT page 4, Telegraph page 11).

Bank of England: The Chancellor announced plans yesterday for a panel of eminent City businessmen to be brought in to make the Bank of England more alert to looming financial problems (FT page 1).

Deputy Governor candidates: The Chancellor has hinted that he may reject Mervyn King’s first choice for Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. Alistair Darling is thought to want a “more balanced” senior team and does not wish to appoint academic economist Charles Bean (Times page 46).

Business start-ups: The number of business start ups in Scotland is down by 17% compared to this time last year (Scotsman page 29).

Housing: Bill Jamieson questions the need for a massive house building programme in light of the credit crunch (Scotsman page 24).

Crime

Detention of terrorist suspects: The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken MacDonald, has said that 42-day detention for terrorist suspects is not needed (Sun page 2). The Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti (Guardian page 33), and former prime minister John Major (Times page 32) argue that plans for 42-day detention of terrorist suspects go against fundamental rights. Peter Riddell comments that even if the measure passes the Commons, it may run into trouble in the Lords (Times page 19).

Transport

Rail funding: The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has awarded Network Rail £2.6bn less funding than it had asked for. The ORR Chief Executive said: “Network Rail can deliver a better outcome at a lower cost.” However, the Chief Executive of Network Rail said the funding settlement was “insufficient” (Guardian page 26, Herald page 1 Daily Express page 6, Scotsman page).

High speed rail link: The First Minister disclosed that high level discussions have been taking place between Holyrood and Westminster about the possibility of building a high-speed train link between Scotland and England (Daily Express page 6).

Forth Bridge funding: Opposition parties accused the SNP Government of not knowing how the new Forth Bridge crossing would be funded (Courier page 6).

Education

Education funding: The outgoing leader of the EIS said that the freedom given to councils under the concordat risks creating a “postcode lottery” in education (Scotsman page 16, Courier page 10).

Scottish Baccalaureate: The Education Secretary has announced the creation of a new Scottish Baccalaureate qualification for S6 pupils (Herald page 8, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 17, The Courier page 6).

Classroom violence: Teachers at the EIS AGM in Dundee yesterday revealed a catalogue of incidents of violence occurring in classrooms and voted that pupils caught carrying weapons into school should be permanently excluded (Herald page 1, Courier page 1).

Vocational college courses for school pupils: A pilot scheme due to start in August for S5 and S6 pupils in East Renfrewshire will allow pupils who want to pursue a vocational career to spend half of their week at a college or university rather than at school (Herald page 8).

University admissions: Scotland has the UK’s lowest proportion of university students from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Courier page 6, Press and Journal page 17).

Apprenticeships: Gerard Eadie, Chairman of CR Smith Ltd, comments on the need for apprenticeships (Scotsman page 25).

Health

Cancer centre: The chief operating officer of NHS Tayside confirmed that the specialist cancer centre at Ninewells hospital in Dundee would remain open, despite concerns about its financial future (Courier page 9).

Politics

Conservative MEP: The leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Giles Chichester, has resigned after admitting breaking expenses rules by channelling allowances to his family business (Times page 9, Daily Record page 2, Guardian page 1, Courier page 10, Mirror page 6, Press and Journal page 11, Daily Mail page 25, FT page 2, Telegraph page 18, Herald page 6).

George Younger: Recently released files show that former Scottish Secretary George Younger threatened to resign from Margaret Thatcher’s Government over funding cuts to Scotland (Press and Journal page 7). Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph (page 15) comments on how the SNP have used the story to compare with the present, accusing Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling of trying to cut money for Scotland.

Tony Blair: The former prime minister has defended Gordon Brown, acknowledging that it was a difficult job and that rising food and oil prices were not the Prime Minister’s fault (Guardian page 13, FT page 2).